Jayesslee are twin sisters, second generation Korean Australian’s, and thanks to a strong and committed YouTube presence they are also succesful musicians (Jayesslee 2013). In fact according to their official website the duo reached over 1 million subscribers in 2013, which made them the most subscribed Australian YouTube channel (Jayesslee 2013).
On their YouTube channel the pair connect with their fan base with two types of video (see image above). The focus is on their music, however they also upload autobiographical-style videos which allow them to express a part of themselves, tell their stories and deliver their messages. They also frequently do this while introducing the songs that they sing, which largely consist of covers of recent pop hits. A reasonably large motivation behind the digital storytelling Jayseelee are engaged in is religious in nature. A small number of the songs covered by the duo have been specifically Hillsong or religious in nature.
“Their ultimate goal and motivation behind every video is to share about the hope they have found in knowing Jesus. The two are not shy in expressing their faith and indicate they would not be doing what they do if it weren’t for His grace and providence. All the glory to Him.” (Jayseelee 2013)
In addition to YouTube, Jayseelee utilize digital platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, iTunes, as well as their own personal website which does a rather good job of coordinating and cenralizing the content hosted on their other platforms. Based on the latest updates on each of the platforms I assume that the duo aren’t active right now, and haven’t been for about a year. Although it’s never explicitly stated that the two are on hiatus, the most recent post on Facebook was a pregnancy announcement which would (understandably) put performances on hold for a little while. Again, there is an aspect of intimate, private-life sharing to the digital story being shared by the duo, who have been open about sharing engagements, weddings and pregnancies with their audience.
I do quite like these videos. Jayseelee certainly have a consistent sound and style that they bring with every cover they do, so the songs feel like proper performances rather than karaoke. They also share a lot of themselves across all of the videos, which aids the performative aspect to the videos and story overall. Their channel hosts several videos filmed on tour, which feel like video postcards from places like Malaysia, Singapore and Vancouver. Several of their earlier videos I have found feature discussion of Korean customs and cultural viewpoints, for example the younger of the twins (even if only by a minute) must pay respect to the older twin (see video above). Although as a cultural outsider its not entirely clear if this is meant in jest or not. But they do cover a few native Korean songs as well, both pop and more traditional ones. As far as I’ve seen however, they don’t actually share a lot about their diasporic experiences growing up in Sydney being raised by native Korean parents. But what they do share between their songs and personal stories begins to form a larger picture the more you watch. It starts to build a mosaic of sorts our of their various cross-cultural, religious and personal experiences. However in building such a complex and fragmented picture, I must also be aware that I am making cultural assumptions whenever I am bridging the gaps in these narratives.
Jayesslee 2013, ‘About Us’, Jayesslee, viewed 24 August 2014 http://www.jayesslee.com/about